17 January 2012
On Monday, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman announced that a new NATO radar station, manned by Turkish and American military personnel, went online this month in the Turkish province of Malatya. The radar station is part of a controversial U.S.-led missile defense shield that both Russia and Iran have publicly opposed.
On the evening of the same day, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that Turkey is a "country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists."
Perry declared that Turkey had moved "far away from the country I lived in back in the 1970s United States Air Force. That was our ally that worked with us, but today we don't see that."
This is what Perry claims about the only Muslim member of NATO, which has commanded NATO mission in Afghanistan four times within the last decade.
A spokesman for Turkey's foreign ministry fired back Tuesday, accusing Perry of making "baseless and improper claims," and that the U.S. has no time to waste with candidates "who do not even know their allies."
In a statement e-mailed to CNN, Selcuk Unal said presidential candidates should "be more informed about the world and be more careful their statements."
"The unfortunate views of Perry are not shared in any case by Republican party supporters, considering the weak support he has received in public polls and primary elections," Unal concluded.
Top Turkish government officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday, with many of them in Northern Cyprus for the funeral of veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas, but the country's largely-tabloid press wasted no time in responding to the comments on websites early Tuesday morning.
"The debate that the Republican candidate Rick Perry attended on American Fox TV turned into a scandal that contained very ugly statements about Turkey," announced TRT state television.
"Rick Perry: what an idiot," tweeted Mustafa Akyol, a columnist with the English-language Hurriyet Daily news. The Hurriyet newspaper also posted a video on its website of Perry drawing a blank in the middle of a prior debate, forgetting in mid-sentence which was the third of three government departments he would cut if elected president.
The Texas governor also argued that it was time for Washington to cut foreign aid to Ankara. he failed to mention that Turkey does not received U.S. foreign aid.
Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert, "Turkey responds to Perry remarks" CNN January 17, 2012
"Turkey furious at Perry's terrorist accusation" USA Today January 17, 2012